Maria Sharapova made an incredible 52 unforced errors as she suffered a first-round exit at the hands of Monica Niculescu at the Qatar Open.
The five-times Grand Slam winner won the opening set, but then crashed to a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, defeat in two hours 38 minutes against the Romanian qualifier.
Niculescu, ranked No 91 in the world, put her sliced forehand to good use and she kept her unforced error count to just 17 while she also fired 12 winners.
“I love it how I play and I like to be unique and I think my slice forehand is a weapon,” the 30-year-old said.
“And when I feel good on the court then I play relaxed, I can be good and can be dangerous.”
Sharapova, by her lofty standards, had a shocker as she produced 52 unforced errors and 11 double faults.
“I did a good job of winning the longer rallies, even though that’s not really what I wanted to get myself into,” the Russian said.
“So, physically I felt good. I just got pretty passive in the end and starting making too many errors.”
Niculescu will play either Magdalena Rybarikova or wildcard Fatma Al-Nabhani in the next round.
Former Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, seventh seed Caroline Garcia as well as Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Anna Blinkova also advanced.
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